Friday, January 9, 2015

Another BIG Shake Up at Norwegian/Regent Seven Seas/Oceania/Prestige Cruise Holdings - The Sheehan vs. Del Rio Result

Kevin Sheehan, the man who transformed Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) from a mess to a significant and credible force in the contemporary cruise market and then was central to the orchestration of the purchase of Prestige Cruise Holdings (and its Regent Seven Seas and Oceania cruise line brands) has left ("resigned") as the President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent to all three brands.

Kevin Sheehan
One thing I was confident of from the moment I heard of the combination of the companies is that Kevin Sheehan and Frank Del Rio, Sr. (the new president and CEO and head of Prestige Cruise Holdings) were never...that is never...going to survive together.

On September 2, 2014 I wrote an article: Norwegian Cruise Lines Purchases Prestige Cruise Holdings (Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises)   In that article I wrote:

I have to wonder how NCL, and Kevin Sheehan (who is a pretty straight shooter!) will deal with Regent's false marketing that it is actually less expensive than say Celebrity or Holland America.  I have written about this a few times.  For example:  Regent Seven Seas vs. Holland America - Really? Let's Talk Ethics and Regent Seven Seas Pricing - It Is Out of Control...Seriously, Why Pay That Much?...It is my hope that Kevin Sheehan puts his mark on Regent Seven Seas and brings Regent back to what it was when it was Radisson Seven Seas Cruises; a true luxury product with fair pricing and superior cuisine and service.

I should have realized that Frank Del Rio had the real power because he has a huge amount of stock, obviously made many allies at Prestige Cruise Holdings, and he made no secret of the fact he was cleaning house as I wrote in my December 1st I article:  Huge Shakeups at Prestige Cruise Holding (Oceania and Regent Seven Seas)...Top Executives Are Leaving and A Ship Is Arriving 

So what does this mean?  Honestly, I am not sure...other than some things are going to stay the way they are (Regent and Oceania) and most certainly other things are going to change (NCL).

What I do know is that nobody can question the successes of Kevin Sheehan.  Sheehan took public a company that had wanted to go public for a quarter century public and one that had been losing money into a profitable one with its stock initially offered at $19 a share trading today at over $46 a share...in one year!

How did he do that?  Not by being above anyone, but by totally changing how NCL did business. NCL now truly engaged its travel agents (I am attending a significant NCL event...not just a webinar...very soon).  NCL has truly changed the way its management is run and treats its staff as valued members of a team, rather than "the hired help".

And Sheehan instilled personal values.  Remember when Tunisia would not let any Jewish or Israeli passengers disembark on an NCL cruise last year?  Sheehan refused to compromise what was right for the dollar and cancelled every port call there regardless of the financial fall out.

Meanwhile some of those more aligned with Frank Del Rio, Sr. had expressed a concern that Sheehan would somehow cheapen the Regent Seven Seas and Oceania products.  I am not sure how that could have been as Sheehan had worked hard to elevate both the NCL product and way of doing businss.

I have a feeling that Kevin Sheehan's moral compass may just have had something to do with his departure.  As I had commented back in September, I didn't think Regent's false marketing of "free, free, free" for things the customers were actually paying for would be tolerated.  Just wonder!

I am, however, confident Kevin Sheehan  is going to reappear somewhere (non-compete agreement possibly delaying it a bit) and I look forward to it.

Now let's see what happens!